Camping can teach you and me some important things about recovery.
When I get home from most camping trips I am in need of recovery. Not because I drink a lot, but because I have not eaten properly or slept well, because I have more blisters than I need and because I have a full array of bug bites.
Camping gives you a special kind of life-experience. As someone in mental health recovery, it strikes me that camping and recovery are similar.
10 Ways that recovery is like camping:
1.One trip I accidentally forgot to pack the tent. Fortunately, we remembered a short way from home. Mistakes like these are chalked up to fun camping memories. Recovery is is like this too, mistakes are part of the learning.
2.In recovery, noises and voices happen. You know they are not real. In the woods, growls are real. You either run or play dead. The choice is important.
3.When you are camping, hot dogs are a meal. You dress them up and make them as fancy as you can, but they are just hot dogs. You want to keep it simple. Recovery goes best when it is simple, honest and real.
4.What happens in the woods, stays in the woods. The fact that I talk to myself when I am hiking is not something that I am proud of. But I would rather talk to myself than surprise an animal. Surprised animals are not rational animals. (Just like most people that I know)
5.You get blisters when you are hiking. It’s part of the experience. My first aid kit contains a huge stack of band-aids in case I get blisters or other various cuts. Recovery gives you blisters too, but they are more internal. You can tell you have recovery blisters when you experience frustrating situations, or people, that get under your skin. The solution: put a band-aid over their mouth.
6.When you are camping, everything takes so much more work. Cooking, cleaning up, getting yourself ready… you have to work harder because you are out of your normal element. Recovery is the same way. You have to work harder at things because you are out of your normal routines. But this is exactly what you need to give you insight, awareness, and motivation to keep your changes going.
7.Starting a fire pisses me off. Wet wood, smoke in my eyes and stinky clothes. No matter what I seem to do, the fire does not go off well. Recovery can be like this. Motivation, fire, and energy can take a while to generate. In fact, motivation is a by-product of action. Most times, you get up and go even when you don’t feel like it. You have to be patient with the process.
8.The trailer is stupid-cold in the morning. Everyone needs a wake-up call in camping. In recovery, reaching the end of ourselves and realizing that we need other people can be a wake-up call. I know for me it is, and I continue to experience this lesson.
9.You need an info desk because recovery is different for everyone. There is no one map that works for everyone, or in every situation. That is why you need an info desk. Everyone needs someone with more experience to give you advice for situations that get you in a bind.
10.You carry a crap load of gear with you wherever you go. It’s true in camping, and in recovery. Your back bears the scars of carrying a lifetime of gear with you. Sometimes the greatest wisdom is in knowing which gear to leave at home. It’s like this in recovery.
Keep it Real
Photo by scpetrel